Copywriter vs Copy Editor: What’s the Difference?

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As a copywriter who’s often asked to copyedit the work of others, I wanted to share the difference between the two roles. I also act as a copyeditor on my own work too, which can be a challenging task as it requires me to take a step back and read my work objectively. Although there are some similarities between the two roles, in marketing, they’re generally seen as two separate disciplines.

The similarities

Copywriting and copyediting are similar in that they both deal with the written word. Both roles require a good grasp of language, grammar, and a keen eye for detail. They’re both usually used in the context of marketing, although copyeditors do exist in book publishing.

Another similarity is that they usually feed into a wider marketing strategy. Both copywriting and copyediting play an important role in generating leads and increasing customer engagement.

What Does a Copywriter Do?

A copywriter can be defined in a few different ways. Personally, I like to define a copywriter as someone who encourages people to take action through writing.

In general, copywriting is used in commercial contexts. For example, it’s usually used by businesses to generate leads, improve conversion rates, and increase customer enquiries or subscriptions. A copywriter uses various techniques to create a sense of urgency, or to appeal to a reader’s emotions.

Some characteristics of a good copywriter include:

  • Diligent about research and citing sources properly
  • The ability to make revisions based on feedback
  • Able to follow a writing process and work to deadlines
  • Being able to work as part of a team as well as in isolation
  • Adjusting their writing to suit different target audiences
  • The ability to create an emotional connection in a reader
  • Creating a sense of urgency through writing
  • Overcoming writer’s block quickly

What Does a Copyeditor Do?

A copyeditor’s role is to ensure that writing is factual, grammatically correct, and flows well. Typically, a copyeditor would work from a tone and style guide to ensure the language used in the copy is suitable for the target audience. They’re less concerned with changing the content itself, and more with the finer points of style. Copyediting requires a good eye for detail and a pedantic approach to grammar.

A copyeditor is concerned with tasks such as grammar correction, fact-checking, proofreading, adjusting sentence structure, and ensuring all formatting is in line with the style guide. They would also advise on word choice and may rewrite sentences for clarification. In some cases, a copyeditor would also optimize a piece of copywriting for SEO, ensuring internal linking is in place, header tags, keywords and phrases, and meta information.

Some characteristics of a good copyeditor include:

  • The ability to communicate ideas clearly
  • Able to verify sources quickly and properly reference
  • An excellent knowledge of grammar rules
  • The ability to follow brand guidelines
  • A stickler for detail, particularly with facts
  • An understanding of what makes writing flow well
  • Able to provide constructive feedback
  • Able to work as part of a team with other marketing professionals

Can Copywriters Also Be Copyeditors?

In a word, yes. Most copywriters will edit their work as best they can before sending it to a copyeditor. However, there’s much to be said about the benefits of having a second pair of eyes on a piece of writing.

As a freelance copywriter myself, I usually act as copywriter and copyeditor on most client projects. I find that the best way to copyedit your own work is to give it the ‘overnight test’. By taking time away from a piece of writing, you look at it with fresh eyes the next time you read it. It also enables you to be more objective and spot errors more easily.

How would you define a copywriter vs a copy editor? What advice do you have for copywriters who also act as copyeditors on their own work?

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Copywriting Vs Content Writing: What’s the Difference?

Jamie Thomson

Jamie Thomson is an award-winning senior copywriter and the owner Brand New Copy copywriting studio. With over 15 years professional writing experience, he helps companies engage with their target audience through tailored content strategies and exceptional copywriting.

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